How to Recruit a Small Group Coach: My “Secret” Formula

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I’ve written a lot about the small group coaching.  If you’ve been along for very much of this conversation, you’ve seen articles about the importance of coaching and the role of a coach.  You’ve also seen articles how to identify the right candidates, the characteristics of an effective coach, and even how to develop and disciple coaches.

Today I want to share my preferred method of recruiting them.  It’s really not a “secret” formula, but the way I do it might be different than you’ve tried in your own effort.

Here’s how I recruit a small group coach:

Step One

Once I’ve identified a hundred-fold candidate (or a sixty-fold), I set up an opportunity to talk with them about an upcoming (or current need) in our small group ministry.  We’re always starting new groups or planning a small group launch of some kind and it’s easy to anticipate the need for additional coaches.

My invitation to talk is very general.  “David, I was thinking about something we’re about to do in our small group ministry and I thought about you.  Could we grab a cup of coffee this week?  When would be a good time for you?”

Note that I didn’t say anything specific, just that we’re about to do something and I thought about him.  Sometimes the candidate will ask for specifics.  When they do I’ll just share that we’re about to launch some new groups and there’s a way he could help us.

Step Two

When we meet for coffee, I’ll tell the candidate about the new groups we anticipate launching (or the ones we just launched).  “We’re holding a small group connection in mid-February and we’re expecting to launch around 20 to 30 new groups.”

Since the best candidates are usually small group leaders themselves, they will almost always remember how their group started and be interested in what you’re planning.

Step Three

Once I’ve shared a little about the upcoming small group launch I tell the candidate why I thought of them.

“One of the things we know about starting new small groups is that we sustain a much higher percentage of new groups when we’re able to give each new leader someone to walk alongside them for the first few weeks.  Someone who knows what they’re doing and has done it themselves.”

Note: All I’m talking about is the “first few weeks.”  This is very important.

I continue by saying, “We’ve seen you in action.  You do a great job leading your small group.  It’s obvious that you know what you’re doing.”

“Would you be willing to come alongside a couple new small group leaders and help them get started?  It would be about a 10 week commitment.  A couple weeks on the front end (before they actually begin), the six weeks of their first study, and a couple weeks on the back end to make sure their new group lands.”

Note: I’ve specified a 10 week commitment.

“It would probably take about an hour a week.  You won’t be going to their group.  Instead, I want you to connect with each new leader every week by phone or in person.  We’ll train you, there are four questions we’ll want you to ask that will steer your weekly contact.  Mostly, it’s just being available to check-in with each new leader once a week as they begin their new group.”

Note: I’ve specified the time commitment.  I’ve clarified a little of what I need them to do and also what it’s not about.

At this point I share a simple job description with them.

Step Four

I make the ask.  “How does that sound?  Are you interested in helping us start a couple new groups?”

The candidate will almost always have a few questions or want clarification.  They will usually want to pray about it or talk with a spouse.  Sometimes they’ll immediately say, “I’m in!  Thanks for thinking about me!”

I usually suggest that they take a day and pray about it or talk with their spouse.  And then make a commitment to call them the next day to confirm their interest.

Important Takeaways

There are a few important things to note about my “secret” formula.

  • I actually try to steer away from using the term “coach.”  I use the phrase “come alongside” very often.
  • I emphasize the short-term commitment.  Sometimes they will ask, “What happens after the 10 weeks?”  When they ask, I will usually say, “Sometimes it’s such a good match or a good experience that it leads to a longer term commitment.”
  • I emphasize the limited responsibilities each week.
  • I emphasize that there will be little bit of training.

An important thing to note is that I don’t really talk about what happens at the end of 10 weeks.  I’ll cover what happens then in a separate blog post.

What do you think?  Have a question?  Want to argue?  You can click here to jump into the conversation.



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